Sunday, August 12, 2007

More than Food and Clothing

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Luke 12:22-40

There are some people who truly are anxious about basic necessities of life, such as food and clothing. If you don’t have enough to eat and have only rags to wear it’s hard not to worry about how you’ll survive. For many of us, though, we take these basic things for granted. We have enough to eat. We have clothing. So we’re usually not worrying about these things.

Now if we’re prone to worrying about things in our lives then Jesus’ words strike home because food and clothing are used by Jesus for all those necessities of life we have. How easy is it to get good health care? And affordable health care, at that? How much money do you keep pouring into your car that’s breaking down more and more before you bite the bullet and buy a new car?

Jesus’ answer isn’t necessarily satisfying: don’t worry. The birds and flowers don’t spend their time worrying and yet God takes care of them. Life is more than food and clothing. And this is where we really see that no matter who we are we so often miss the point of what God really wants to give us.

We spend our time worrying about how we’re going to get by another month when things are tight. Or we simply take so many things we have for granted, rarely thinking about what tremendous blessings they are.

Life is more than food and clothing. If we really thought about that and took it to heart we’d spend less time worrying about the things of this life and being more humble and grateful for the many ways God takes care of us and provides for us. What does Jesus say? Seek the Kingdom of God.

How much of our lives do we spend seeking the things of this world and not the world of the next? The things of this life which is temporary instead of the things of eternal life which is, well, eternal. God knows we need food and clothing. That’s why He provides those things for us. When we’re in need it’s tempting to worry. But what we need to do is trust in God.

How does the twenty-third Psalm say it? “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” When we have the Lord as our Shepherd we have everything we need. We know He will take care of us. What does He lead us into? “He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” Our Good Shepherd is mostly concerned with giving us the things we need for eternity, not this short life. Look at how He is described when things are dark in our lives: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Our Lord is described as one who invites us to sit down and feast at a banquet in the midst of the dark times of life. That’s why it’s remarkable that when Jesus tells us in the Gospel reading for today that those await on their master will receive not a master but a servant—one who girds up before them to serve them.

You see, life truly is more than food and clothing. In fact, what God wants to give to you is the very robe of righteousness and the very heavenly food only He Himself can give you. If we’re constantly worried about the things of this life, how will we see that God is giving us so much more than we think we need? If we simply take the things of this life for granted, how much more might we take the spiritual blessings of God for granted?

Our loving Lord has given us life and provides for us in life. But there is much more to it than food and clothing. He clothes us spiritually and feeds us spiritually. Listen to the picture God gave to Zechariah in chapter 3 of his book:

Then He showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him He said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”

This is how God clothes us. In Baptism our Lord puts on us the robe of Christ’s righteousness. Filthy and stained by our sin we are clothed in the clean garments of Christ’s righteousness.

Dressed in the forgiving love of God we are ready to enjoy the banquet He provides for us. He feeds us with forgiveness also. Just as we are clothed with Christ we are fed with Christ. His very Body and Blood are given us to eat and drink. Life is more than food and clothing. The life Jesus gives to us in Baptism and His Holy Supper is much more than we often think we need.

The forgiveness God gives us, His spiritual blessings He provides for us, are not something that happens out there some place. They are delivered to us where He has promised to give them to us: in Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. What do we do in our need? We pray. We ask God to help us. Jesus Himself in the Lord’s Prayer said pray for our daily bread. But our prayer doesn’t feed us. We don’t pray and then feel satisfied because our stomachs are now full. What God does is answer our prayer at the table, with real food that we eat and fill our stomachs with.

It’s the same with our prayer for forgiveness. We aren’t forgiven because we pray. He answers our prayer at the Supper Table—specifically, the Lord’s Supper. Having clothed us with the righteousness of Christ who served us by giving His body into death and shedding His blood for our sins he now serves us with that same Body and Blood for our forgiveness. He always gives more than we seek. Amen.



Peter said...

The last two paragraphs are a great summary and application of the text. My hungry soul was well-fed.

rev.will said...

Thanks Peter!